>I’ll wait for the paperback…

>I’ve spent a lot of time in bookstores. Wandering from shelf to shelf. Touching the books. Taking in the smell of the paper. And occassionally reading. I’ve taken friends who say they “never liked to read” into my favorite bookstores and helped them find that one book that will spark a love of reading. I’ve watched new parents try to find their babies first book. Laughed when someone had put copies of the Bible in the Science Fiction section. Is it just me or are the chairs in bookstores the most comfortable chairs in the whole world? Yes, I’ve spent a lot of time in bookstores, and one question I always ask never fails to get a few odd looks.

“Well, when does it come out in paperback?”

Ask this question, and atleast one person will look at you like you’re the strangest creature they’ve ever seen. It’s usually the one with a stack of brand new hardcover new releases in his or her arms. They can’t fathom why someone would want one of those icky little pocket sized books. They don’t look serious or intellectual. In fact, you find them abandoned on airport benches across the country. They don’t look neat and tidy wedged onto a jammed bookshelf. They don’t keep that “brand new” look for very long. Does she buy them because they’re cheaper??? Does she have something against cardboard???


She…I mean I…buy them for the same reason a lot of people don’t. They bend quickly. You get those lines down the spine from holding the book open in one place too long. the corners start to tatter from shoving it in your purse, or backpack, or pocket, or glovebox too many times. There are smudge marks from your coffee spilling on the edges of the pages. Vaguely Cheeto colored fingerprints under certain lines. By the time you’ve reread the book 5 times page 65 is missing, but you already know it by heart anyway.
I buy paperbooks because you can tell they are LOVED. That book becomes more YOURS than any mint condition hardback book ever will. Those unbent, untattered books depress me. They don’t look like anyone has ever really loved them. Ever fallen asleep on them and bent the pages back too far. Ever left it out in the rain for a minute or two because they were reading in the sun. You know a book is beautiful, and well written, and inspiring, and funny…when it’s falling apart.

That’s why I always wait for the paperback.

Published by laura

I'm the author of two short story collections, a story cycle, and a collection of short memoirs. I am an educator, literary translator, journal editor, and writing coach.

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